Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti in Italian) in Florence was for several centuries the home of the ruling families of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, from the time of the Medicis. Since then it has become a museum, housing several major collections.
The building was originally begun in around 1440, by Luca Pitti , a rich merchant who was a rival of the Medicis, and wanted to build a large palazzo which would outshine the Palazzo Medici . (He specifically instructed that the windows should be larger than the entrance of the Palazzo Medici.) He hired Brunelleschi as his architect, who was assisted in the actual building by his pupil Luca Fancelli . Work stopped after the Pitti suffered financial reverses in 1465, and Luca Pitti died in 1472 with the building uncompleted.
The building was purchased in 1549 by Eleonora of Toledo , the wife of Grand Duke Cosimo I de' Medici of Tuscany, for their use; all the later Medici Grand Dukes also resided there. After the end of the Medici dynasty in 1737, the palace was taken over by the new Grand Dukes of Tuscany, the Austrian Lorraines. Their tenancy was briefly interrupted by Napoleon, who used the Pitti during his period of control over Italy. When Tuscany passed from the Lorraines to the House of Savoy in 1860, the Pitti was included. After the Risorgimento, when Florence was briefly the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II resided in the Pitti until 1871. His grandson, Vittorio Emanuele III, presented the Pitti to the nation in 1919.
Although the buildings themselves have been considerably modified and expanded over the years, the central part of the main building (which fronts the Piazza Pitti), with its seven immense windows, is today still the original construction; the massive stones for it were quarried from a site in the neighbouring Boboli Gardens. The Pitti was greatly enlarged after it was bought by the Medicis; the first phase was under the guidance of Bartolomeo Ammanati, who was responsible for a number of additions in the last half of the 16th century, of which the most significant is the massive rear courtyard, enclosed by the two wings he added. The father and son team of Giulio and Alfonso Parigi later expanded the main building to its current width, and laid out the piazza in front, in the mid-17th century. Another major addition to the Pitti came after the arrival of the Lorraines, when Giuseppe Ruggeri added the curved wings which wrap around the piazza. Sporadic lesser additions and alterations were made thereafter for many years, under other rulers and architects.
The interior we see today was in large part a later product than the original portion of the structure, mostly created in two phases, dating from the 17th century and early 18th century respectively. Some parts are earlier, and there are later emendations (such as the Throne Room) as well.
The palace, and other buildings in the Boboli Gardens behind it. now contain several important collections, including the Palatine collection (a large group of paintings in what used to be the ruling family's "private" gallery, although it was opened to the public in 1828), the Silver Museum (which also includes cameos, and works in semi-previous stone, many of the latter from the collection of Lorenzo de' Medici), the Porcelain Museum, and others.
- Francesco Gurrieri, Patrizia Fabbri, (photography Stefano Giraldi), "Palaces of Florence" (Rizzoli, 1996), pp. 66-77 for the Palazzo Pitti
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